It finally happened. Mother Nature granted us a photo op where we could catch the owl family at home on Grand Junction, Colorado's awesome Audubon Trail.

If you've ever walked the Audubon portion of the Riverfront Trail, you've probably seen people staring upwards at a tree not far from the trailhead. Well, this is what they're looking at. Normally you can see an owl. Sometimes you'll spot the owlets. Finally, a chance for a family portrait.

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The Owl On the Riverfront Trail

For the last few weekends trail walkers have been able to catch a glimpse of at least one of the famous Great Horned Owls living along the Audubon portion of the trail.

On Saturday, April 29, 2023, I spotted what I believe was the dad cruising along the treeline just northwest of their home. A few hundred feet later I was able to spot these three at the nest.

Owls on Audubon Trail April 29 2023 B
Waylon Jordan

Not Easy To Spot

Okay, so while it's not exactly a Sears Portrait Studio family portrait suitable for framing, the photo directly above is one of the best shots I've been able to get of the family. Not to make excuses, but getting a photo of the owl is kind of like getting a picture of Bigfoot. You know how children can be. It's hard to get a photo of someone or something that doesn't want its picture taken. Since these owls undoubtedly prefer their privacy, I make an effort to keep my distance.

Mom Was Nearby

Mom is never too far away. Another fan of the owls, John Redding, captured this image that same weekend.

Owls on Audubon Trail April 29 2023
John Redding

You May Have Walked Right Past It

It seems many trail walkers are unaware of this particular nest. With that, even with the nest is right on the trail, the owls manage to maintain a desirable level of social distancing. In the photo below you'll spot two in the nest and one on the limb to the left.

Owls on Audubon Trail April 29 2023 C
Waylon Jordan

Owl's Nest is a Grand Junction Colorado Landmark

Visit the Audubon Trail as it sets out from the Safeway shopping center off Broadway, and you'll spot this nest along the trail. Everyone stops to look at the nest to see if anyone is home.

A Little Info About the Great Horned Owl

It's my understanding there are a total of four Great Horned Owl nests along the Audobon portion of the trail. To date, I've only seen two with my own eyes. According to All About Birds;

With its long, earlike tufts, intimidating yellow-eyed stare, and deep hooting voice, the Great Horned Owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. This powerful predator can take down birds and mammals even larger than itself, but it also dines on daintier fare such as tiny scorpions, mice, and frogs. It’s one of the most common owls in North America, equally at home in deserts, wetlands, forests, grasslands, backyards, cities, and almost any other semi-open habitat between the Arctic and the tropics.


How to Find the Nest

Let's use Chow Down Healthy Pet Supplies at 2500 South Broadway as our starting point. You can park right along this portion of the Riverfront Trail. From there, take the trail heading west. You'll pass behind the plaza housing Golden Fights Gym and S.O.A.R. From there, continue heading west on the trail until you pass the Redlands Power and Water facility south of the canal.

Shortly after you pass that facility, you'll spot the tree with the owl's nest directly in front of you.

Great Horned Owl nest Riverfront Trail tree
Google Maps / Canva

The total distance from Chow Down to the tree containing the nest is just over 2,000 feet. In other words, it's not that long of a hike and is well worth the effort.

Great Horned Owl nest Riverfront Trail distance from Chow Down
Google Maps

Looking Back One Year

If you look back precisely one year to May of 2022, you may remember the brand new baby owls at this nest.

Owl Babies May 2022
John Redding

From time to time, but not often, you'll spot the dad. The dude is a tank. He can be seen at times cruising along the top of the trees lining the canal.

Every once in a while you'll spot the babies and the mom perching on the limbs at the left and right of the nest.

Owl Baby 1 May 2022
John Redding

Over the last ten years, I've seen several generations of Great Horned Owls emerge from this nest. It's become somewhat famous. If nothing else, the trail makes for an excellent outing. If you're lucky, you'll spot the trail's newest residents.

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